JC CELLARS Smoke & Mirrors California 2011Score: 90 | $25
A fun quaff, zesty and jammy, but focused and restrained. This is loaded with black raspberry, toasty vanilla, licorice and bitter chocolate flavors. Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Drink now through 2020. 600 cases made.
“Stagecoach Vineyard is an impressive mountain planting, stretching from the westernmost regions of Atlas Peak all the way to the east overlooking Oakville. Syrah is planted on the south and west facing slopes of the rocky, volcanic terrain. The combination of cool nights and warm days allows for superb complexity and optimal hang time to create wine with true varietal expression.” – Jeff Cohn
The aromatics of this wine showcase its mountain terroir; graphite minerality and roasted earth components intertwine themselves with blackberry preserves and floral elements. The palate receives a lush explosion of black fruit, building up in intensity to become a well-structured wine with a mineral backbone that slowly shifts to crème brulée on the finish.
Mr. Cohn has shown a clear predilection for wines of substance and size over the years, and this dramatic, mouthfilling effort is all that and more. There are bound to be those who find it too much of a good thing, and we would not argue with the notion that it is a very big wine, but its fruity concentration and depth are stunning, and its sheer opulence is guaranteed to make fans of the style swoon. It is a bit hot and coarse at the finish, but its flavors are remarkably long, and, whether drunk sooner or later as preference commends, it is a wine that must be matched up with appropriately full-flavors foods.
From a warmer site, the 2006 Stagecoach Vineyard is less fruit-driven, but displays a meaty, earthy, terroir-driven style. With higher tannins, and a firmer, more structured, big, masculine personality, this cuvée will benefit from another 1-2 years of cellaring, and should drink well for a decade or more.
Firm, intense and full-bodied, offering tight spice, mineral and sage, with ripe blackberry, wild berry and black licorice fruit as this holds its focus, ending with chewy, leathery tannins and a loamy earth edge. Drink now through 2016. 252 cases made. –JL